Paper has a way of piling up, so why not try going paperless?
For most Erie Insurance personal lines customers*, your online account and the ERIE mobile app can help you go green and reduce your carbon footprint. Now, there’s another option at your fingertips: paperless billing. Here’s how (and why!) to sign up.
Why Make the Switch?
In 2019, the United States Postal Service delivered more than 142 billion pieces of mail. That adds up to more than 34 million trees (and let’s not even get into the gallons of gas burned to deliver).
As an ERIE customer, you can opt in for paperless billing, which eliminates the paper invoice you currently receive. You’ll get an email notifying you when your bill is due with a link to the actual invoice.
Say goodbye to stacks of paper on your desk. There are many benefits to turning your paper invoices digital.
- It helps the environment. Fewer paper statements lessen the demand for trees and lower air pollution made during paper production.
- Access your information anytime, anywhere. Paperless means you can check your invoices at your desk or on vacation. A quick click and you can view your invoice history and pay your bill.
- It’s a time saver. No more sorting, printing, recycling, mailing or filing your insurance bill. It’s easy to document things digitally.
- You can conquer the clutter. Whether you have a top-notch filing system or a shoebox filled with essential documents, going paperless can free up some space.
How to sign up for paperless billing with ERIE
Don’t have an online account? No problem; it’s easy to register. Your online account offers immediate access to details about your ERIE policy. Plus, you can pay your bill, access your insurance ID card (not available in New York), check your claim status and contact your ERIE agent.
How will I get notified of my invoice?
Check your email. ERIE will send a message to the email address associated with your online account. The email will include a link to your invoice.
Go Paperless with ERIE
Not ready to go paperless? Don’t worry! We aren’t removing paper altogether. But if you need another way to go green, be sure to set up your online account or download the ERIE mobile app to begin digitizing your paper bills.
If you have questions on paperless billing, check in with your local ERIE agent.
*Commercial, ERIE Family Life, annuity or disability income policies, policies on account billing and policies paid via ESCROW are not available for paperless billing.
Posted on 11 April 2021 | 9:00 pm
Whether you need more space for your growing family or are relocating for a new job, moving to a new home is something most of us will encounter eventually.
But while looking for the perfect house can be an exciting process, you’ll also be faced with the reality of selling your current one.
Putting your home on the market is a daunting task. Not only do you want it to sell quickly, but you also want to get the most out of your investment. After all, the more money you make at the sale, the more you’ll have available to put down on your next house.
Wondering if there are any simple improvements you can make before the “for sale” sign goes in the lawn?
Here are seven easy do-it-yourself projects you can tackle to get the best bang for your buck – and impress a potential buyer:
- Clear your clutter. Believe it or not, experts say this simple project can add nearly $2,000 to your home’s value! A full house can distract buyers and make rooms look smaller. So go room by room to clean out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use large trash bags or empty boxes to throw away what you don’t need and donate items in good condition.
- Update your kitchen. Kitchen remodels can be expensive. But you don’t have to completely gut your kitchen to wow a potential buyer. Simple updates like new appliances, countertops, backsplash or flooring can give your room a more modern look. Installing stainless steel appliances or quartz countertops can cost as little as $5,000 while boosting your home’s resale value between 3-7%.
Want more inspiration at a lower price? See what made our list of easy and affordable kitchen upgrades.
- Landscape your yard. Good curb appeal has been shown to increase a home’s value between 5-20%. Cut back any overgrown plants and trim your trees and bushes. Pull those weeds and put down some fresh mulch. A little landscaping will go a long way to ensure the exterior views of your home aren’t blocked. And it will make your house look like a place buyers want to live.
- Paint your walls a neutral color. Studies have shown a fresh coat of paint can bump up your home’s value between 1-2%. Consider using a neutral color like light grey or a shade of white. This will help cover any stains, scuffs or chipped paint. In turn, you’ll liven up the space and help a potential buyer imagine how they can make your home their own.
- Improve your energy efficiency. Lower utility bills can help attract potential buyers. Projects like adding insulation, high-efficiency windows, energy-efficient appliances or LED light bulbs can all reduce the energy your home uses. Overall, making sure your house isn’t an energy hog can improve its worth between 1-3%.
- Make changes to help people of all ages. Consider adding features to your home that make it more accessible. That may include installing a walk-in shower or creating a master bedroom on the main floor. These “universal design” elements could increase your home’s value between 1-2%. Learn more about how universal design can help you age in place.
- Be smart with technology. Technology evolves fast. But products like a smart thermostat or keypad locks can be useful for years to come. Features like these can help boost your home’s value between 3-5%.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. The people and things in your life are a big deal. That’s why we think the insurance that protects them should be a big deal, too.
At ERIE, every homeowners insurance policy comes with a local agent who’s there to help you understand and feel confident about what you’re buying and how it works. And, yes – we offer 100% guaranteed replacement cost* for worry-free coverage that protects you without surprises.
Find a local agent in your neighborhood to request a quote and get the conversation started.
*Guaranteed Replacement Cost applies to dwelling and requires home improvements over $5,000 to be reported within 90 days - not available with all policies and in all states. Coverage of costs to comply with laws or ordinances is subject to limits. Depreciation will be deducted until repair or replacement is made. Talk to an ERIE agent for more information.
Posted on 8 April 2021 | 9:00 pm
Why should I get a multi-point inspection?
There are plenty of reasons to get a multi-point inspection. For starters, it’s a key element of preventative vehicle maintenance. Knowing the condition of your vehicle can help you catch and address potential issues before they lead to dangerous failures or costly repairs.
And because most multi-point inspections evaluate your vehicle on a rating scale (green = good; yellow = needs repaired soon; red = needs repaired now), it provides you with the information needed to plan and budget for repairs in the future.
What is checked during a multi-point inspection?
The specific elements of your inspection may vary depending on where you take a vehicle for service. But generally, you can expect most of these components to be evaluated:
Under the hood
- Engine oil: In gas-powered vehicles, oil lubricates an engine’s internal parts to help reduce friction and wear. During an inspection, a technician will check to ensure your oil is clean and filled to the appropriate level. While some oil use over time is normal, consistently low oil levels can be a sign of a leak. And dirty oil should be changed to maximize engine protection and performance.
- Coolant: Your car’s cooling system protects the engine from running too hot, which can cause significant damage. An inspection of your cooling system will include checking the radiator and coolant hoses for leaks. Your antifreeze should also be clean and filled to the appropriate level. Learn what to do if your car overheats.
- Brake fluid: In a hydraulic braking system, brake fluid provides the force needed to apply your brakes. This fluid should be clean and full, as it goes bad over time.
- Power steering fluid: Similar to brake fluid, this hydraulic fluid is used to build the pressure that operates your vehicle’s power steering rack.
- Air filter: An engine’s air filter ensures no debris makes its way inside your engine. Like any filter, it can get clogged over time, which reduces engine performance.
- Drive belts: Rubber serpentine belts drive multiple components in your engine bay, including the power steering pump, alternator and air conditioning compressor. As your belt ages, cracking can lead to a broken belt. And a loose belt can make a loud squealing noise.
- Hoses: There are a number of rubber and metal hoses in an engine bay that carry fluids to your car’s engine and other critical components. During an inspection, the technician will check for any leaks that could cause problems down the road.
- Battery: A battery supplies the electricity needed to start and operate your vehicle. By conducting a battery voltage test, a technician can give some insight into the overall health of your battery. They may also check your alternator to ensure it’s properly charging your battery while the engine is running. A dead battery tops our list of 7 reasons your car won’t start.
- Washer fluid: Most drivers have experience filling their washer fluid tank. This quick check will ensure you’ve got enough fluid to clean your windshield when needed.
- Seat belts: Safety restraints, such as seat belts, will be checked for proper operation.
- Airbags: A technician may use a vehicle code scanner to check for any issues with your car’s airbag system. Given the recent string of airbag recalls, they can also let you know if any need to be replaced (any recall-related repair will be paid for by the vehicle manufacturer).
- Horn: A quick honk is all that’s needed to validate that your horn is in working order.
- Brakes: The condition of your brakes has a huge impact on your vehicle’s stopping power. Brake pads will be inspected for wear (this determines how much life they have left) and rotors will be checked for warping, rust or other damage.
- Lights: Headlights. Taillights. Turn signals. They should all be burning bright. If not, the bulbs can be replaced.
- Wipers: Cracked or broken windshield wiper blades can leave you with a streaky view when rain starts to fall. Learn when and how to replace your windshield wipers.
- Floor mats: This may sound strange, but improperly installed floor mats have led to serious accidents over the years (this includes installing aftermarket floor mats on top of the mats that came stock with your vehicle). If your mat gets caught under the accelerator or brake pedal, you could find yourself in an unsafe situation.
- Cabin air filter: In the same way your engine air filter cleans the air going into your engine, a cabin air filter keeps dust and debris from coming through your car’s vents. If it’s dirty or clogged, it should be replaced.
- Air conditioning: Your AC will be checked to ensure it’s blowing cold.
- Engine performance: One of the most important checks is evaluating the overall performance of your engine. To do this, a technician will use a code scanner to read any error codes from the vehicle’s computer. If your car isn’t running smoothly, they’ll also evaluate the car’s idle speed and ignition system (spark plugs and wires), while checking for any oil leaks that may impact performance.
- Transmission/clutch: It’s the job of your transmission to apply power from the engine to the wheels. If you have an automatic transmission, a technician will check the condition of your transmission fluid and evaluate whether the car is shifting smoothly from one gear to the next. If you have a manual transmission (stick shift), your clutch will also be tested for proper engagement.
- Differential/transfer case: On your car’s axle, a differential helps to split power from the transmission to both drive wheels. If you have a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle, you’ll also have something called a transfer case (this transfers power to the front and rear axles). These components will be checked for any fluid leaks, which could indicate a bad seal.
- Driveshaft/U-joints/CV joints: These components connect your car’s transmission to the differential. The parts of your vehicle will vary depending on whether it’s front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). Regardless of your vehicle type, they’ll be checked for wear, which can lead to noise and vibration when driving.
- Fuel lines/brake lines: Metal fuel lines move gasoline from your car’s gas tank to the engine, while brake lines move hydraulic fluid from under the hood to the four corners of your vehicle. If you live in a climate that gets snow (and road salt) in the winter, rust can become an issue for these metal parts. They’ll be checked for any leaks or damage.
- Exhaust: A technician will evaluate your exhaust system and muffler for any signs of leaks or damage. If something is wrong, the added noise is a giveaway.
- Shocks/struts/springs: A critical component of your suspension system, these items enable you to travel smoothly over bumps and imperfections in the road. They’ll be checked for leaks, cracks and other signs of wear (like a rough, bouncy ride).
- Ball joints/bushings: These parts are used to help your wheels turn smoothly from side to side, and also allow suspension components to move up and down. Because they wear over time, they can lead to clunking or squeaking noises and result in loose or shaky steering.
- Alignment: A computerized alignment machine will be used to evaluate whether all four of your wheels are set to the correct angle. Bad alignment can cause steering vibration and excessive tire wear if not corrected.
- Tires: Your tires will be checked to ensure they’re inflated to the correct pressure and have plenty of tread left.
How long does a multi-point inspection take?
As you can probably guess from the list above, a comprehensive multi-point inspection can take upwards of a few hours. However, the time it takes will also be dependent on how thorough the inspection is. Before dropping your car off, ask the shop for a list of what will be inspected, as well as an estimated time to complete the job.
How much does a multi-point inspection cost?
The cost of your multi-point inspection will also depend on how thoroughly the job is done. For example, a quick courtesy check may be offered for free at some shops, but you shouldn’t expect much more than a brief visual inspection of some of the components described above. Meanwhile, a detailed inspection with diagnostic testing could run you $200 or more. The added cost of an intensive inspection can definitely be worthwhile. Whatever option you choose, adjust your expectations accordingly.
When should I get a multi-point inspection?
There’s really no bad time to schedule a multi-point inspection for your vehicle. Typically, getting an inspection every year or two will help keep your car in perfect running condition. But you may also consider scheduling an inspection before events such as:
- Buying a used car. A pre-purchase inspection will ensure there won’t be any surprises when you drive your new-to-you car off the lot. Learn more in our explainer on pros and cons of buying a used car.
- Taking a long road trip. Fixing potential problems before you hit the road can prevent a vacation-ruining breakdown. Read more in our ultimate guide to planning a road trip.
- Changing seasons. The fall and spring are popular times to schedule inspections due to changing weather and driving conditions.
- Selling a car. If you’re selling your car to someone directly, a recent multi-point inspection can give buyers confidence in the quality of your vehicle – and fetch you a better price.
Multi-point inspection vs. state inspection
Depending on where you live, your state or county might require you to complete an annual or biennial vehicle inspection. It’s important to note that these inspections are not the same as a multi-point vehicle inspection. Some state inspections only test the emissions of your vehicle to ensure it’s not emitting more pollutants than it should. Others require a safety inspection, but it may be less thorough than a full multi-point inspection.
Performance you can count on
At Erie Insurance, we believe reliability isn’t just important for cars. You should be able to count on your insurance company, too. When you purchase auto insurance from ERIE, we commit to be there when you need us and get you back on your way, right away. To learn more, talk to a local independent agent in your neighborhood.
We all know the importance of having a reliable, well-running vehicle. But with so many complex moving parts in modern cars, trucks and SUVs, it’s not uncommon to have underlying problems you may be unaware of.
To catch any issues before they result in a breakdown, most auto dealers, mechanics and service centers offer a multi-point inspection. This service is a comprehensive evaluation of nearly every component of your vehicle. They can also be called a courtesy check, vehicle inspection, maintenance inspection or pre-purchase inspection (if it’s done before you buy a used car).
As a vehicle owner, it makes a difference to do your research and think ahead – whether that’s shopping for auto insurance or knowing when to get a multi-point inspection. Here’s what to know about the latter.
Posted on 8 April 2021 | 9:00 pm
Electrical dangers are serious business. From risk of shock to potential fires, you’ve got plenty of reasons to make sure your home’s electrical systems are in good shape and safe working order. Fortunately, in most houses, a simple walkthrough can help you identify and avoid the most common risks. (Having the right homeowners insurance can provide peace of mind, too.)
Most fixes are simple and inexpensive, if not free. Take a few minutes and see for yourself whether any of your rooms require attention. Let’s start with…
Outlets and switches
Outdated or mis-wired outlets and switches are not only annoying, but dangerous. Here’s what you can do:
- Make sure all outlets and switches have faceplates. Faceplates aren’t just for looks. Without them, you have exposed wires that can shock or cause fires. Replace any missing faceplates, even if they are behind furniture or otherwise out of the way.
- Protect kids. All outlets should have safety covers. Or better yet, consider an upgrade to tamper resistant receptacles, which offer built-in protection against curious little ones. (They also look nice.)
- Check outlets for signs of wear. If an outlet has burn marks or is hot to the touch, that’s not good. Consult an electrician to get to the bottom of the problem. It could be a bad outlet or a sign of an underlying issue.
- Make sure switches and outlets work. You can test with a portable lamp or a nightlight. If an outlet isn’t delivering power or a switch isn’t working consistently, it may be a sign of something serious. An electrician can help you make sure that you correct any unsafe wiring, often as simple as a loose screw or worn-out switch.
Extension cords and power strips
When it comes to extension cords and anything that allows you to expand how many things are plugged into a single outlet, use them sparingly. Here’s what you can do:
- Avoid extension cords. If possible, relocate items close enough to outlets to avoid extension cords altogether.
- If you really need one, know what to check. If an extension cord can’t be avoided, make sure that it’s in good working order and free of visible damage. Don’t run extension cords under rugs or put heavy weight on top—they can be crushed and become fire or shock hazards. Also make sure that your extension cord is not wrapped tightly around or secured to anything (with staples or nails, for example).
- Use power strips cautiously. Never plug multiple power strips into one outlet, or into one another. Don’t overload the power strip and watch out for heat. If your power strip is hot, reduce the number of items plugged into it. Experts recommend that power strips should be for temporary use only.
Most house fires start with the kitchen, which may not be surprising. But while most of us think of a splatter of grease or an overcooked roast as likely sources of flames and smoke, your electrical appliances can also be culprits. Here’s what you can do:
- Steer clear of the sink. Relocate small appliances, such as coffee makers and blenders, away from the sink. If they—or the outlet they are plugged in to—can be splashed with water, that’s a shock hazard. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) – that’s the thing with the “test” and “reset” buttons – will also reduce the risk in areas where water is a concern.
- Watch your wiring. Ensure large appliances are plugged in correctly and properly wired. Plugs should reach outlets without stretching or straining and insert firmly. If anything is amiss or if you’ve ever received even a light shock from touching an appliance such as an electric stove or dishwasher, consult an electrician right away.
- Unplug items not in use. Unattended appliances, such as a toaster or juicer, can lead to fire, even when no one is using them. To reduce your risk, simply unplug unused items until you need them.
With moist air and running water in a tight space, bathrooms can be dangerous when it comes to electricity. Here’s what you can do:
- Unplug it! Just like in the kitchen, you should unplug unused appliances, such as an electric toothbrush or hair dryer, when not in use. In addition to the risk of fire, these can be a major shock hazard if knocked into a sink or bathtub while plugged in.
- Avoid portable heaters. The presence of water, steam and a variety of conductive metal materials make these a real danger in a bathroom. Having a fixed heating fan installed is a safer solution. (Read our list of space heater safety tips in this blog post.)
- Add GFCIs. Since most bathroom outlets aren’t far from running water, GFCIs are a must.
Other spots in and around your home—think basement, garage and outdoor areas—can have their own electrical hazards. Here’s what you can do:
- Check your fuse box or circuit breaker. Make sure that all fuses or circuits are in place and that fuses are the correct size.
- Consider arc fault circuit breakers. These are a good fit for bedrooms to help you rest easy at night. They act in a similar fashion to GFCIs by sensing a short or overload and quickly shutting off the power.
- Test your GFCI circuits, especially outdoors or near sources of water. Simply use the “test” and “reset” buttons to make sure they are working properly, particularly if you have outlets that are exposed to the elements.
- Know when to call a pro. If you frequently blow fuses or trip breakers, contact an electrician to find the underlying problem.
A simple walkthrough of your home can uncover much of what made this list, or at the very least give you the peace of mind that you’ve done your homework. Shock and fire can happen any time. If you see an issue, or even just suspect one, act today.
Protect Your Home With Homeowners Insurance
While you’re looking out for your home, we’re looking out for you. Learn more about homeowners insurance from ERIE, or talk to a local agent in your neighborhood.
Posted on 7 April 2021 | 9:00 pm
Every driver ‒ and every passenger ‒ expects to reach their destination safely.
But picking up your phone to read or answer a text while you’re behind the wheel puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy.
At any point during the day, it’s estimated that around 660,000 drivers are on their phones. In the U.S., texting and driving causes a quarter of all car accidents. And teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to have accidents or near-accidents when they’re on their phones.
Want another eye-opener? You’re six times more likely to cause an accident when you’re texting behind the wheel than a drunk driver!
The silver lining? This is a habit that can easily be broken.
Here are eight tips that can help you ‒ or a driver you care about ‒ overcome the temptation once for all, while doing your part to keep the roadways a lot safer.
8 Tips to Stop Texting and Driving
- Remember: Silence is golden. Before you start the ignition, put your phone on silent mode and make sure it’s not on vibrate. Another option: turn your phone off altogether. Both options will eliminate the temptation to check your screen every time it rings, pings or buzzes.
- Hang up your “do not disturb” sign. Well, figuratively anyway. On most smartphones, you have the option to turn on some form of a do not disturb mode while you’re driving. Do your research to find out how to enable this on your phone. There are even apps you can download to block texts while you’re behind the wheel, including ones specifically geared toward teen drivers.
- Make it out of sight, out of mind. Rather than having your phone in your cup holder, your center console, or (cringe) your hand, put it in a spot where you can’t see or reach it.
- Ask for help. If you have a passenger or two with you, ask them to keep an eye on your phone and handle any calls or messages you receive. If you’re a passenger rather than a driver, volunteer for the job ‒ and call out the driver if they’re being unsafe.
- Put it in park. If it’s absolutely vital to respond to a message, find a place to safely pull over, then park and answer.
- Model safe behavior. Talk to your kids about the dangers of texting and driving, explain the ways they can avoid it, then put your money where your mouth is.
- Set and enforce rules. If you have a teen driver in the house, make your expectations clear about how they’re allowed to use their phone in the vehicle and be very specific about what will happen if they break those rules. If you catch your teen doing it, enforce those consequences ‒ every time.
- Enroll in our new YourTurn® program.1 Need an extra incentive? Our driving safety app, YourTurn, is available to ERIE customers. The app measures criteria such as speeding, hard braking and phone usage – and you can earn rewards based on your driving score (up to $5 or $10 every two weeks)2. This helps to make drivers of all ages more aware of their driving behaviors and identifies areas for improvement.
It’s Your Turn to Make Safe Driving a Priority
ERIE’s YourTurn program is a new way we’re looking out for you and helping you stay safe on the road. Contact your local ERIE agent today to learn more or to sign up for the YourTurn program.3 If you choose to join the program, you’ll receive a YourTurn welcome text and instructions for getting started.
YourTurn is currently not available in the District of Columbia, Kentucky, North Carolina and New York.
1YourTurn not available in all states. As of 03/2021, program available to policyholders in IL, IN, MD, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI, and WV.
2Ages 16-23 can earn rewards up to $10 every two weeks, ages 24+ can earn rewards up to $5 every two weeks. Rewards are based on the participating driver’s score during the scoring period while driving 50 tracked miles. Indiana participants can earn up to $5 every two weeks. Rewards are distributed through the YourTurn app via electronic gift cards.
3The YourTurn app requires participants to be a licensed driver on the ERIE auto policy and have a valid email address, smartphone number and data plan to download and activate the YourTurn app. Users must agree to the Terms and Conditions of the YourTurn® app.
Posted on 30 March 2021 | 9:00 pm